Returning cavalry set to lift Sydney FC
The cavalry is set to arrive for a Sydney FC side intent on using last Saturday's crushing 7-2 A-League loss to Central Coast as motivation and a test of character.
Coach Ian Crook hopes to have several players back in the selection mix for Saturday's home game against Melbourne Victory.
Four players - Socceroos midfielder Jason Culina and defenders Pascal Bosschaart, Fabio and Adam Griffiths - will return from injury in a practice match against Western Sydney Wanderers on Tuesday.
Marquee forward Alessandro Del Piero, who missed the Gosford debacle with hamstring tightness, won't play on Tuesday but is expected to be right for Saturday.
"We're still a long way off of where we want to be, but we're getting some bodies back now which is good as well, to put competition in there in amongst the group," Crook said.
He said it would be up to Culina, who hasn't played since January last year, how long he played for against the Wanderers.
"If he feels good after 45 minutes and feels like he can do another 15, great," Crook told reporters on Monday.
Crook brushed off suggestions the players and himself were on notice and under pressure after Saturday's woeful performance.
He subjected himself to two full video viewings of the Bluetongue Stadium slaughter.
"I'll still remember this ten years down the line," Crook said.
"I don't think you should ever get over something like this, but you can use it as motivation to spur yourself on.
"I think it's important you learn from it. You can't just brush it aside and say it never happened, but it's how you come back from it.
"A wise man once said it's better to lose one 7-2, than seven 1-0.
"We're still (only) four points off second."
Crook referred to one of his past clubs as evidence of how a side can rebound from the type of mauling Sydney suffered in Gosford.
"We got beaten 7-1 (by Colchester) at Norwich first game of the (English Championship) season three years ago and we ended up winning the league with four games to go," Crook recalled.
"It's something that we used as a motivation to turn it around and I believe we want to do the same here."
Sydney defender Sebastian Ryall said morale among the players wasn't great after the loss, but stated the team retained self belief.
"We just have to look at the negatives and work on them, there are not many positives out of the game," Ryall said.
"We never want that to happen again, as players it's a terrible feeling.
"But it's a test of character for the players to really pick it up and to show what we're worth."